Stoke fail to create anything to counter the home side's advances
New Liverpool signing Luis Suarez helped the team to a third win in a row with his debut goal adding to a Raul Meirleles strike for a 2-0 victory, leaving a helpless Stoke City to mull in a disappointing performance.
The match took a while to warm up and the first-half saw only two real chances featuring in the first 45 minutes, both from Liverpool. Sotirios Kyrgiakos had a header cleared from Abdoulaye Faye and Asmir Begovic was on hand later in the half to perform a fantastic relflex save from Glen Johnson’s powerful header. However, as the game got going, the home side piled on the pressure forcing further saves from the Stoke keeper and a solid defence kept King Kenny’s side out.
It didn’t take too long for the second-half to provide excitement as Liverpool went into the lead after just two minutes. Steven Gerrard struck a free-kick from just outside the area low and hard which hit Robert Huth and the rebound was collected by Kyrgiakos, who carried the ball onto Raul Meireles, leaving him to strike home from close range. From there the game fell flat once again as both teams struggled to show their clinical sides in the attacking third.
Anfield new boy, Luis Suarez, came on to show his worth as Liverpool’s second most expensive signing came on and helped their play improve with his cunning skill on the ball. After 20 minutes on the field, the Uruguayan had scored his debut goal for the Reds after rounding the visitor’s keeper and hitting the ball on goal for a failed clearance from Wilkinson to hit the post and fall into the net. His team kept the pressure on until the end and Stoke couldn’t do anything but resist conceding a third goal.
The home side began the game in a tentative manner, carefully building up the pressure leading to captain Steven Gerrard making an attacking move down the left and getting a shot off that was struck straight into the path of Begovic and out for a corner. Kyrgiakos headed a dangerous looking ball toward the Stoke goal from the set-piece, but Faye was there to clear the shot.
Liverpool looked like they could make something happen with each corner they were given by Stoke, Kyrgiakos was a constant threat in the visitor’s area, but failed to test Begovic on his early chances.
Meanwhile, Tony Pulis’ side had definitely been told to take their counter-attacking opportunities as Liverpool quickly got sloppy in their play and former Anfield player Jermaine Pennant looked to take advantage of this on the right-side, whipping in the ball on 23 minutes for John Carew, but the Norwegian couldn’t get the resulting header on target.
The game’s tempo was failing quickly as the first half-hour past and only one real chance had been brought to spectacle leaving the Anfield crowd bored and quiet. However, Stoke were looking solid at the back and began to scare Kenny Dalglish’s side with their dangerous set-pieces almost getting through the Liverpool defence.
Martin Kelly continued his impressive form with a pin-point cross into Stoke's area which was met by Glen Johnson’s head causing an aware Begovic to pull off an amazing reflex save. The danger wasn’t over as Gerrard collected the loose ball from the save and put it back in for Dirk Kuyt who headed it wide.
Robert Huth could have been sent off in the last minutes of the first-half after a harsh two-footed tackle on Kelly, but the referee only showed the German defender a yellow card.
It was Begovic caught up again just before the half-time whistle with Lucas and Fabio Aurelio taking part in some attractive one-two football and handing the ball onto Kuyt who blasted the ball toward the Bosnian keeper.
Just two minutes into the second-half saw Liverpool take the lead following a Gerrard free-kick that was smashed low toward goal, striking Huth on the way but was collected by Kyrgiakos and his heavy touch handed it over to Raul Meireles who hit it in with his left foot from close range.
Stoke were struggling as Liverpool kept on with the pressure, but were able to attempt some attacking moves of their own with John Carew getting the closest to act as a threat to the home side, however the Aston Villa loanee was finding himself frustrated as his team’s moves fell short of testing Liverpool.
Carew was in contention for another chance after Aurelio failed to control the ball properly leaving the Norwegian to break and shoots with a menacing shot across the face of goal that left Pepe Reina beaten, but failed to get it on target.
New £23 million signing Luis Suarez came on just after 60 minutes to a rapturous applause from the Anfield faithful and immediately got involved in the game as he tried to gradually adjust to the English game.
The visitors faced more problems as Faye was forced to come off with an injury, an event the disappointed Tony Pulis wasn’t hoping for as he looked to increase his chances of an equaliser by adding more attackers onto the pitch, with the manager having to replace the defender with Danny Collins.
Suarez began to make a good impression as he started to win balls for his new team and was using them to feed his fellow players in the hunt for a second goal.
The Uruguayan needed less than 20 minutes on the pitch to score his first goal for Liverpool. Suarez was set one-on-one with Begovic from a Kuyt pass, rounding the Bosnian and hitting a shot toward goal that was met by Wilkinson who tried to clear, but could the ball went onto the post and rebounded into the net.
Stoke struggled at the end against shots from Gerrard and applied pressure from the rest of the Liverpool side kept the visitors frustrated, leaving the home fans to revel in their new hero’s debut goal.